Seattle Culture

Simple Ways to Wellness

Here’s how you can exert minimal effort for maximum results—and in some unexpected ways

By Danielle Hayden April 6, 2020


This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the April 2020 issue as part of the Get Well Soon cover story. Click here to subscribe.

Trying to fulfill all your obligations—personal, familial, occupational—can leave you drained, as you forget (or forgo) your own self-care and wellness. “The ‘wellness’ industry has made health feel intangible and, in some cases, out of touch,” says Hannah Larson, a Seattle-based wellness blogger. “But the basics of staying healthy are much simpler than we think.” To find out how simple, we sought tips from professionals on how to feel like your best self without draining your time or wallet.

This may be hard to hear in a tech mecca like Seattle, but disconnecting from devices is a good thing. “The number-one change I suggest is to make the bedroom a tech-free zone, so that your phone is not the first thing you look at before bed and upon waking.…Start your day on your own terms, not Mark Zuckerberg’s agenda for you,” says psychotherapist Christina Malecka, who offers digital mindfulness retreats and workshops in Seattle and on Whidbey Island. This applies to evenings, too: “Turn off alerts and push notifications, find a set technology stop time every evening and stick to it, leave your phone out of your physical reach during downtime and keep your email application closed until you have time set aside to respond to messages.”

Get out and get moving
You’ve certainly heard this one before, but it’s important to spend time outdoors instead of cooped up in our dwellings. “Even if it’s just standing outside your door in the rain for a moment, reconnecting with nature can help lift depression, improve energy, and boost overall well-being and mental health,” says Lisa Levine, a local wellness coach and owner of Audacious Health & Wellness. Once you’re out there, even a few minutes of physical activity can work wonders.

Be alone
This can seem counterintuitive if you’re a sociable person, but being apart from others can be helpful. “Spend at least 10 minutes of each day in solitude,” says Sarah Goble, studio director of immersive wellness studio Sanctuary Studios on Lower Queen Anne. “Carving out time to be alone allows you to get in touch with your inner being without the influence of the outside world.”

Chat with your boss
It may seem daunting, but a quick one-on-one meeting with your employer could make a huge difference in your well-being. “Recovery time from your job is crucial,” says Laura Hamill, Ph.D., chief people officer and chief science officer of Limeade, a Seattle-based software company that works to improve employee experience. “Work overload, tight deadlines and running on empty can lead to exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy, and ultimately cause you to burn out. Work with your manager to prioritize your projects, see what tasks you can take off your plate and give yourself well-deserved time off to recharge.”

Tune in and turn up
Did you know that a song can improve your mood? Carlene Brown, Ph.D., director of the music therapy program at Seattle Pacific University advises being intentional with your music. “It can be used as a cue to slow down your breathing, bring a smile as you remember a wonderful memory, move your body to a rhythm or a mood….Having access to your music anywhere, at any time, is a form of self-care.” Research backs her up. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.” Stream your favorite tracks (or dig up that old Pat Benatar album) for an easy boost.

In lieu of a spa
If you’re able to take advantage of a sauna and follow it with a cold plunge, by all means, go for it! But for a quicker and easier alternative, Levine makes this suggestion: “Try turning on the cold water for 30 seconds at the end of your shower every day…the feeling afterwards is incredibly nourishing. It’s great for your lymphatic system and it’s very relaxing.”

Love thyself
Repeating short phrases of self-affirmation to yourself is a nice departure from the self-deprecation to which too many subject themselves. “To keep myself healthy, happy and confident, I take time out of my day for self-love affirmations; a quick minute to remind myself that I am capable and am doing the best work I possibly can,” says Hoda Abdullahi, senior manager of health and wellness at Living Well Kent, a coalition that improves food access and sustainability for immigrant and low-income communities.

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